How I Artfully Transformed My Friend Into An NFL Fan
Let’s face it, men are dumb. Not dumb in the sense that they have limited cognitive abilities, but in the sense that they don’t know what they don’t know. And that makes them vulnerable to outwitting and manipulation. Sports, particularly football, bring out the worst in them. Every guy I’ve ever dated had a strong opinion on some team in the NFL, which is more often an excuse to hear themselves talk than rooted in any kind of special knowledge. That probably doesn’t say very much about the guys I like to date, but we all have our flaws.
As a lifelong Patriots fan who grew up in a football centric family, I know my football. Now that I’m living in New York, I need to adapt in order to survive. But most of my female friends aren’t natural sports fans. It’s not surprising, but I was determined to show them the light as to how consuming the NFL can be. It took awhile, but one night I had an epiphany: leverage the dating scene.
Take Becky, for example. We first met two years ago when I was fresh from Boston and didn’t know anyone in the city yet. She told me that she wasn’t really a huge sports girl, but wanted to learn to impress guys. So I became Will Smith in Hitch, hoping she could find both a guy, and a new sport, to love.
Becky and I hung at bars on the Upper East Side and watched the Pats play every Sunday. What initially kept Becky to the Pats game schedule was twofold. The first was that she fell head over heels for Julian Edelman. The second was that guys liked girls that know a little something about football. I know, I know. It’s 2017 and women shouldn’t care what men like. I get it, but knowing that there is a pretty solid ground that you can approach a guy about is a comforting thought. I can’t even begin to count the times that I’ve started a conversation with some bullshit news story about what’s going on in the league. Men truly enjoy talking about the NFL. It doesn’t really matter what time of year it is. Becky noticed this too and asked me to teach her a little bit about the game so that she could go out there to confidently talk about Jules.
I’m convinced that talking about a NFL player is the only time that talking about a dude to another dude will actually get them to like you. What Becky did not yet realize is just because a guy is always blathering does in no way guarantee he actually knows football.
Now, Becky is a yoga instructor, like the majority of twenty-something year old females in Manhattan. That might not be all that they do, but it’s usually, “Hi, I’m Becky and I’m a yoga instructor.” Before I met Becky, I had never even stepped foot into a yoga studio. Or had the desire to. The three yoga classes I’ve taken are because she’s taught them. She was willing to meet me at a bar to watch games, so I would occasionally go to yoga classes with her.
There was one early morning class in Downtown that Becky was teaching in order to snatch a regular gig. It was February just after Denver had won Super Bowl L. I was in a sour mood to say the least. Getting up and turning myself into a pretzel is not what I consider to be a good time even on my best day. I stayed home but heard from Becky mid-class. She had put her class into a meditation so she could text me about the “Hot Boston Pats Yoga Man” currently in her class. The meditation move was ballsy because the reviews that the students were going to give her would then decide if she got to keep this particular position.
The message exchange went like this:
B: I may or may not have it bad for one of my clients. He is wearing a Pats hat.
Me: Soon, you’ll be basing all your potential relationships on NFL rivalries. Mention that the Broncos won despite Manning’s total noodle arm in the Super Bowl.
I woke back up later to a series of texts to indicate that HBPYM did agree that the defense, not Manning, won that championship. Becky got the number and the job.
It wasn’t rocket science. Anyone with two eyes that watched Super Bowl L would have been able to see that, but for some guys it’s still an unexpected statement from a female. Most guys just assume that chicks don’t care about sports or are pretending to know more than they do (unlike them, of course).
Eventually, HBYPM asked Becky out on a date. Now it was time to take things to the next level. Given that Becky scored the date upon the (false) pretense of “cool football chick,” she thought she would need to sustain a long-term conversation about the NFL. Becky couldn’t just run off to the bathroom to Google player stats every time HBYPM stumped her with a question.
So I came up with three tips for Becky to help her learn the basics of both the Pats roster and the mechanics of the game.
The first is that you gotta pick a team. Pick the home team. Pick the team of where you’re from. Pick your brother’s least favorite team. Pick a team out of a hat. Doesn’t matter how you do it, but it’ll be much easier to learn the rules of the game if you consistently watch the same players. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, so I grew up watching Drew Bledose as quarterback. I started really getting into the NFL when my brother decided to enlist in the Marines. He needed someone to relay the offseason information to him while he was at bootcamp. My fandom was easy: Home team, roots, and a sibling bond.
The second tip is to know at least five players from whatever team you decide to support. Three offense and two defense. Maybe the kick returner if you’re feeling feisty. I gave Becky Pats players in the hopes of bringing her over to the dark side. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, James White, Dont’a Hightower, and Patrick Chung. Women gather information all the time. If you can figure out the name of your crush’s high school ex-girlfriend’s second baby daddy, you can memorize some key players and play calls.
The last tip is to pay attention during the preseason games. Think of it as the dress rehearsal to learn the basic rules while the games don’t actually matter. It’s sort of like when you were only allowed to buy drugstore makeup as a kid. Your parents didn’t want to go spend hundreds of dollars at Sephora if you didn’t know how much you were going to wear that blue eyeshadow, but you still need to practice putting it on. Preseason is your dress rehearsal.
When Becky finally went on her date, she was ready. HBPYM started talking about the upcoming (2016) Pats season and lamenting Brady’s four-game suspension. Becky brought up Hightower and Chung as anchors of the defense that should help the Pats make it through the adversity. She even threw in the Matt Cassell experience from 2008 as a predictor for the likely success of Jimmy Garoppolo. Clearly, Becky put in some extra time after practice.
Unfortunately, once Becky took the conversation past First Take talking points, HBPYM became threatened and immediately changed the subject to politics, so he could mansplain all over Hillary Clinton’s emails. Becky called it a night without even ordering dessert.
Like I said, men are dumb, and some of them can’t handle a chick who can drop some real NFL knowledge. But in the process, I got a newly empowered Becky legitimately into the NFL and she has become a true game-watching companion. I’d like to say I’m happy about it, but she picked the Jets as her team.